January 16, 2017

Liaoning carrier group 4 - inferior to any Nimitz group

Macau Daily Times, Jan 16, 2017, and other sources have provided comparisons of key traits of China’s Liaoning ski-jump carrier group versus US Nimitz carrier groups (See larger image  here. Image via Business Insider Australia). These include: 

-  far less Chinese experience at long range, inter-ocean logistics (supply chains) for Liaoning and its
   whole carrier group

-  far fewer port arrangements, physical facilities and supporting ocean rim allies than the US 

-  Liaoning only carries 36 fighters/helicopters (nothing like the unique Osprey) vs up to around 80
   fighters/helicopters/Ospreys on Nimitzes.

-  China's only carrier fighter type, the J-15, lacks the stealth of F-35Bs or Cs and there seem no plans
    to make carrier capable stealth prototypes of China's J-20 or J-31.

-  as with India's INS Vikramaditya (ex-Kiev) and Russia's Admiral Kuznetsov, Liaoning’s old Soviet
   steam turbines were badly designed, were poorly maintained, of limited range, limited to 20
   knots cruise. This is even though China modified Liaoning's propulsion in a reported "1,000" ways. 

-  This means Liaoning would take longer to arrive on station and be less able to flee from threats.

-  Meanwhile Nimitz-class can travel nuclear, around the world, at 30 knots.

-  the J-15 ski-jump launch requires the J-15s to use more fuel than catapult assisted aircraft US

-  Lower power to weight aircraft types (eg. AEW aircraft and cargo aircraft - standard on Nimitzes)
    cannot be used on Liaoning

-  of course, no catapult assistance limits fighters to smaller fuel-loads (far less range) and to lighter
   weapons and/or sensor loads

-  Liaoning’s pilots, airwing crew and ship crew are far less experienced (by around 94 years) than
    their American counterparts, especially in fire and kinetic emergencies

-  Liaoning doesn’t appear yet able to launch and recover aircraft at night, crucial for combat
   effectiveness and safety (pilots don't want to underestimate when darkness comes)

All this makes Liaoning far less flexible and less effective than Nimitzes.

Tomorrow I look at what Liaoning can do and where. 

Please connect to Liaoning carrier group 3



Anonymous said...

Hi Pete,

regarding the night-ops:


- J15 have been photographed taking off with 2x YJ-83 Anti-ship ASM and 2x PL-8 short-range AAM and 2x PL-12 BVR AAAM.


- the modified propulsion-system of Liaoning can keep her at 30kt for 5 hours.


Team Eurowussies

Anonymous said...

With a ski jump, one cannot launch AWACS. No AWACS means you are essentially blind.

Peter Coates said...

Hi Team Euro (or is that Beijing?) wussies

I disagree:

1. https://china-defense.blogspot.de/2017/01/cctv-capture-of-day-night-carrier.html - there are no "night ops" takeoffs and landings depicted. The first 2 photos show J-15s on deck doing nothing. The 3rd photo shows the ground crew moving a J-15 around on deck

2. https://www.sinodefenceforum.com/j-15-carrier-multirole-fighter-thread.t6768/ shows no J-15 being photographed taking off FROM LIAONING . Sure a J-15 may be able to takeoff from a land base with twice as many stores than if it took off from Liaoning.

3. You'll note I said 20 knots was Liaoning's CRUISING speed.

Yes Liaoning might be able to travel at 30 knots for a few hours. After 5 hours at 30 knots Liaoning would have burnt up a large amount of fuel to be only 50 nautical miles further than it would be if it was at cruising speed. This is compared to Nimitz class carriers that can cross whole oceans quickly and many times without refueling.



Peter Coates said...


Very true. Liaoning will need to rely on helicopters as slow and limited range platforms for AWACS/AEW.

Unfortunately the UK's Queen Elizabeth class carriers may have the same AWACS only by helicopter limitation. This may be the Merlin AEW helicopter or perhaps Sea King ASaC.7. See https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Queen_Elizabeth-class_aircraft_carrier#Airborne_early_warning_and_control



Anonymous said...

Sure J-15 can carry 4 AAM and 2 YJ-83 but the question is how much fuel do they need to trade off. With two big jet engines, a pedestrian SFC times the thrust, that is not a good thing. I have not seen J-15 doing buddy refueling like F/A-18.

The other shortcoming of the J-15 and SU-27/30 variants is the low overall availability as a result of those engines having short life before needing an out of bay tear down (something like 500 hours). And if they are Russian engines, I believe you may have to ship them back if I am correct.

MHalblaub said...

The Liaoning is a training vessel for China.

Unlike other nations China has the capability to build nuclear powered aircraft carriers. China will notice the deficiencies and build a proper carrier on its own with catapults.

At the moment China is building some very large aircraft carriers in the South Chinese Sea. A type called island and very hard to sink by a submarine.


Josh said...


The Chinese have the capability to develop marine based nuclear propulsion on their submarines but it does not follow that this translates to the engineering of a nuclear powered carrier. The shaft horsepower of a Nimitz class is about an order of magnitude greater than an SSN (although it is split across four shafts). The CV currently building appears to be largely identical to Liaoning which would indicate it will take a long time for them to move towards a clean sheet, nuclear design. The next innovation to look for in their third CV likely will be catapults giving them much more aircraft options and payloads.


Peter Coates said...

Hi KQN [at 17/1/17 8:14 PM]

Thanks for the tip about relatively short jet engine life for users of SU-27/30 variants (including the J-15s and J-11s). So as well as China and Russia other users, like India and Indonesia, would suffer low engine lives.

This might shorten the weekly pilot training schedules - which would lower pilot skill levels.



Anonymous said...

Hi Pete,

It's Team Eurowussies - if you check the IP-adresses I posted from.

I have been reading the "china-defense.blogspot" and sinodefenceforum.com for years now - long before I started to follow your blog. (I can't read Mandarin, so for me they are the best sources - for now.)

My earlier post is just for the purpose of the discourse, not to (counter-)prove anything.

While sinodefenceforum.com does have problems with trolls and stronk-crews from time to time, the mods enforce the forum-rules & netiquette swiftly.

There are professional writers like Andreas Rupprecht (aka deino) and former USN-servicemen like "bdpopeye", who are quite identifiable and they neither are China-fanboys nor play down the tremendous gains which Chinese forces made.

You might want to spent some time on that board or contact A. Rupprecht and other forum-members there.



Peter Coates said...

Hi "Team Eurowussies" [at 26/1/17 8:03 PM]

There's too many IP addressess (over 500/day) and the timezones are too complicated for me to solve the (guarded?) mystery of the country you're sending from.

In Europe? Can you be more specific?